Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Alexis St. Martin Collection, 1879

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, October 2012

Summary Information
Title: Alexis St. Martin collection
Creator: Etheridge, James Henry, 1844-1899
Inclusive dates: 1879
Extent: 10 items
Abstract:
This collection is made up of correspondence and newspaper clippings by or related to Alexis St. Martin, a French-Canadian man who underwent medical experimentation and observation after surviving an open stomach wound.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Donated, 1936. M-325.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Alternate Format:

The letters written by Alexis St. Martin were reproduced in: "St. Martin, Alexis. Four Letters of Alexis St. Martin." Ann Arbor (Mich.): William L. Clements library, 1937.

Preferred Citation:

Alexis St. Martin Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

The collection is organized chronologically.


Biography

Alexis St. Martin received an accidental gunshot wound in his stomach on June 6, 1822, while he was employed at Fort Mackinac by the American Fur Company. Dr. William Beaumont (1785-1853), a United States Army surgeon, treated the wound, and temporarily cared for St. Martin in his home. The hole in St. Martin's stomach never closed completely, which allowed Dr. Beaumont to perform experiments and make observations about digestion and other processes of the stomach. The results of his research were published as Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice, and the Physiology of Digestion (Plattsburgh, 1833).

Alexis St. Martin fathered 17 children and later lived in Oakdale, Massachusetts, and St. Thomas, Québec. He died in Canada in 1880.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of correspondence and newspaper clippings by or related to Alexis St. Martin, a French-Canadian man who underwent medical experimentation and observation after surviving an open stomach wound.

Eight letters and postcards, July-September 1879, pertain to James H. Etheridge's proposals to Alexis St. Martin, requesting that he visit Rush Medical College in Chicago, Illinois, for observation. Alexis St. Martin (3 items) and Henry F. Harris (4 items) wrote about St. Martin's possible involvement and financial compensation. Two newspaper clippings, written before 1880, concern St. Martin's wound, his later life, and Dr. William Beaumont's experiments on St. Martin's stomach. See the Detailed Box and Folder Listing for information about each individual item.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Beaumont, William, 1785-1853.
    • Contracts.
    • French-Canadians.
    • Medicine--United States--History--19th century.
    • Rush Medical College.
    • Saint-Thomas (Québec)
    • Wages.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Rush Medical College.
    Contributors:
    • Harris, Henry F.
    • St. Martin, Alexis, 1797?-1880.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Drafts (documents)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Postcards.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Alexis St. Martin collection [series]
     
      1879 July 20 . S. Desmarais ALS; St. Thomas, [Québec]. ( 2 pages. )
    Desmarais lives in the same town as Alexis St. Martin, and knows him well.
     
      1879 July 31 . Henry F. Harris postcard to James H. Etheridge; Oakdale, Massachusetts. (1 page)
    Harris will speak with Alexis St. Martin, Jr., about his father.
     
      1879 August 9 . Henry F. Harris postcard to J[ames] H. Etheridge; Worcester, Massachusetts. (1 page)
    Harris has seen Alexis St. Martin, Jr., who believes his father will not accept Etheridge's offer as he has been offered better terms by another party.
     
      1879 August 22 . Henry F. Harris postcard to James H. Etheridge; Worcester, Massachusetts. (1 page)
    Harris submitted Etheridge's latest proposition to Alexis St. Martin, Jr., who will consult his father.
     
      1879 September 1 . Alexis St. Martin ALS to J[ames] H. Etheridge; St. Thomas, [Québec]. (2 pages)
    Alexis St. Martin accepts the recipient's offer, with additional conditions. He requests money for his ticket to Chicago and for his board there.
     
      1879 September 6 . Henry F. Harris postcard to J[ames] H. Etheridge; Worcester, Massachusetts. (1 page)
    Harris has heard nothing from Alexis St. Martin, Sr., but Alexis St. Martin, Jr., doubts that his father will enter into an agreement. Harris believes that a personal visit will be necessary to persuade the St. Martins.
     
      1879 September 28 . Alexis St. Martin postcard to James H. Etheridge; St. Thomas, [Québec]. (1 page)
    St. Martin has received Etheridge's letter, but he cannot accept Etheridge's offer because of an illness.
     
      1879 September . Alexis St. Martin AD draft; St. Thomas de Joliette, [Québec]. (1 page)
    Alexis St. Martin's terms of agreement with Rush Medical College. For $400 and additional expenses, St. Martin will undergo medical experiments and observations. On Rush Medical College illustrated stationery. On verso: 1879 September 8. Alexis St. Martin ALS to [James H. Etheridge]; St. Thomas de Joliette, [Québec]. (1 page) St. Martin agrees to accept the stated conditions if, and only if, the recipient will pay for his son's board in Chicago.
     
      Undated . Newspaper clipping. (1 page)
    "A Celebrated Medical Case." Mentions Alexis St. Martin's wound and his tour with Dr. Beaumont. States that St. Martin is still living in St. Thomas, Canada, and has had 17 children. St. Martin is too poor to join his wife in Oakdale, Massachusetts.
     
      Undated . Newspaper clipping. (1 page)
    "Stomach Open to Daylight." Brief biography of William Beaumont and history of his studies of Alexis St. Martin. Reprints 1 letter by Henry F. Harris and Alexis St. Martin's response, both dated 1879, regarding St. Martin's later years.
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has many works about Alexis St. Martin and William Beaumont, including Howard Peckham's The Man with the Hole in His Stomach: Being as Well the Story of the Man Who Peered into It.

    The letters written by Alexis St. Martin were reproduced in the following volume: St. Martin, Alexis. Four Letters of Alexis St. Martin. Ann Arbor: William L. Clements library, 1937.

    Bibliography

    Bittker, Anne. "William Beaumont Experiments Begun 147 Years Ago This Month." Michigan Medicine 68.11 (June 1969): 583-589.

    Myer, Jesse S., and William Osler. Life and Letters of Dr. William Beaumont, Including Hitherto Unpublished Data Concerning the Case of Alexis St. Martin. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Company, 1912.

    Numbers, Ronald L. "Beaumont, William." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press: 2000.